Equine management plans for small landholdings

Page last updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2017 - 3:35pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Horse ownership is a popular pursuit for many small landholders.

An equine management plan is an effective way to ensure that your horse does not adversely impact on the land, soil, water, air and vegetation of your small property.

The plan is a useful tool that addresses best management of the environment and details how you will manage nutrients, dust, odour, water resources and paddocks.

New landholders intending to keep horses and existing landholders wishing to increase horse numbers on their property, are advised to contact their local government authority (LGA) in the first instance.

Local government authorities recognise the social, recreational, economic and historical value of localised equestrian activity and foster policies and strategies that attempt to manage the local equine industry in a sustainable way.

In most cases your LGA will require an equine management plan (EMP) and in addition, all people planning to keep horse(s) need to be registered as owners of stock with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

When registering with DPIRD (as you are legally required to in Western Australia), you will be issued a Property Identification Code (PIC) for the property where your horse(s) will live. It could be land you own or agist from someone else.

Horses are also required to be identified by the age of six months (18 months in pastoral areas) or before they leave the property, whichever happens first. They should be freeze or fire branded with your stock brand, as per your PIC card. The brand will consist of two letters and one numeral and should be placed on the left shoulder of the horse.

If your horse already has a stock brand from its previous owner, you do not have to rebrand if you have documents that prove your ownership or possession of the horse, but you can rebrand the horse with your own brand if you wish.

Alternative identification such as a microchip may be approved on application to DPIRD. Alternative identification such as a microchip can be used under specific conditions.

For more information and allocation of a PIC, see Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia or contact our Brands Office on +61 (0)8 9780 6207.

What is an EMP?

An EMP is a working plan of the design and management of a horse property that is based on the property’s physical resources, the activities that are undertaken on the property, the owner’s goals and financial factors (for example the ability to resource infrastructure).

A well thought-out and workable EMP for a horse property has great potential benefits. It will help ensure:

  • you achieve your personal goals for your horse property and lifestyle
  • the natural resources on your property and the surrounding environment are well managed and protected
  • the specific requirements of your LGA are met
  • that your horses benefit from good pasture cover, shelter, and quality water and are healthy by avoiding mud, dust and other environmental factors.

Why is an EMP required?

An EMP will usually be required by LGAs to fulfil a condition of development, rezoning and/or subdivision approval. The keeping of horses is subject to the prior written approval of the LGA within the special rural zone.

As a general guide, the LGA will require the preparation of an EMP if you wish to keep horses on your property in numbers that exceed the stocking rates outlined in the special scheme provisions applicable to your land.

The sandy, free-draining soils of the Swan Coastal Plain, where many equine small landholders are concentrated, have a limited carrying capacity and are easily overstocked.

Overstocking results in the offsite export of nutrients, which are a major cause of algal blooms in our rivers, estuaries and wetlands. Poor management may also result in other issues such as nuisance fly breeding and dust.

The preparation and implementation of an EMP is required to adequately manage the offsite impacts on the environment and public amenity.